How to Grow Lettuce II
Lettuce is not difficult to grow but you need to follow some simple guidelines. Once you have planted lettuce you can enjoy to see it grow. The next important step is to harvest your lettuce so you can use it in salads and other meals.
How to Harvest Your Lettuce
There is one simple rule for having that tasty, tender lettuce: it needs to be harvested as soon as it’s ready. Lettuce grows very quickly and should be harvested as soon as it is ready to be eaten. This is a great thing for spring-grown lettuce and it is one of the reasons why it tastes so good.
If your lettuce has all the right conditions: mild-sunny days, cool nights, good soil fertility and plenty of water, the lettuce can go from seed to harvesting in about 30 days for loose leaf varieties and 45 to 60 days for full head varieties.
Timing is essential for harvesting lettuce. Keep in mind that the leaves have the sweetest and most vibrant flavor in the morning. There are some findings indicating that lettuce harvested around 7 AM have about twice as much natural sugar as those harvested at 2 PM. Keep this in mind if you want to harvest loose leaf and full head varieties. However, if you want to harvest baby greens it is best to do it in the evening because in this case they can be stored for longer than one day.
When harvesting, pay special attention to how you handle the leaves. These are tender plants with gentle leaves so you need to be careful to prevent injuries to the leaves. When harvesting, make sure to cur about an inch above the soil. Don’t cut too close to the soil because it may damage the plant.
Also, keep in mind that leaves that are harvested in the sun can start to wilt in just 15 minutes if you don’t take them out of the garden quickly.
When you harvest the leaves, make sure to place them inside, in a cool and moist (but not wet) spot. In case you don’t have time to fully wash the leaves right after harvesting, at least five them a quick rinse in cold water. After this, place them in a refrigerator to use them later. Don’t wait too long, though: fresh lettuce is tasty so it should be consumed soon after harvesting.
One great thing about harvesting lettuce is that you can often do it more than once. For example, it is possible to harvest loose leaf varieties two or three times before the quality of leaves declines.
After one harvest, make sure to keep your lettuce properly watered and weeded so they will produce another harvest in about two to three weeks.
A fun thing about lettuce is that it can be consumed in many different ways. Simply wash it and it is ready to be served. To remove extra water, use a salad spinner. If you don’t own a spinner you may simply wrap your lettuce in a large dish towel and spin it in circles. This should remove any unwanted moisture and your lettuce will be ready to serve.
Lettuce is mainly used in various salads or as a nice side dish. Many people even like to consume it fresh as leaves without any additions.
One great thing about lettuce is that you can enjoy it during cooler months when not much else can be grown. You should use cold frames, low tunnels or minimally heated greenhouses to grow lettuce for salads in the winter. This is a great way to have some fresh, home-grown greens during the winter months.